New York probing Facebook on data from apps: source

By Agence France-Presse

New York regulators are probing Facebook's gathering of intimate consumer data such as menstrual cycles and body weight through smartphone applications, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday.

Facebook is test-driving a dating service in Colombia (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN) (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Facebook meanwhile confirmed it had received a letter from New York state's Department of Financial Services seeking information about the data sharing.

The regulator, best known for cracking down on large banks, demanded that Facebook provide the names of all the companies that have sent the social media company data about users of their applications over the past three years, according to the source.

Other requests were sent to application developers for information on their contracts with Facebook.

A Wall Street Journal report on February 22 found that intimate data could be shared with Facebook from at least 11 popular apps using a tool designed to help target ads, even if users were not Facebook members.

Information collected by apps included personal details regarding body weight, pregnancy status, ovulation, and home shopping, according to the Journal.

Facebook said it was reviewing the request.

"It's common for developers to share information with a wide range of platforms for advertising and analytics," a Facebook spokesperson said.

"We require the other app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us, and we prohibit app developers from sending us sensitive data. We also take steps to detect and remove data that should not be shared with us."

The New York probe comes amid a broadening debate over online privacy. Interest and industry groups testified this week at hearings on Capitol Hill on options to strengthen protection following a number of high-profile scandals involving Facebook and other tech giants.